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Associate Provost Keyser steps down after 9 years

Professor Samuel Jay Keyser is stepping down on June 30 after nine years as associate provost, working with former Provost John M. Deutch and Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

"Jay Keyser has served the Institute effectively and with distinction in his years as associate provost," said Professor Wrighton. "I am personally grateful for the support he has extended to me in dealing with a wide range of educational issues, conflict resolution and new initiatives.

"He has played a critical role in developing programs to build collegiality among faculty, students and staff. At Academic Council, Professor Keyser contributed wisely to the full set of issues and policy matters faced by the Institute and his insight has proven valuable in solving very complex problems. I will look forward to working with Professor Keyser as he continues his leadership in assisting MIT in connection with our efforts to eliminate harassment and educate our community in ways to approach conflict resolution.

"Professor Keyser will continue to hold the Peter DeFlorez Professorship, and his brilliant work in linguistics will enhance the educational and scholarly programs in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy," Professor Wrighton said.

Dr. Keyser will also be a special assistant to the Provost, with responsibilities to coordinate and lead complaint handling seminars and to educate the MIT community in matters related to harassment and the importance of working to eliminate harassment of all types, Dr. Wrighton said.

Professor Wrighton said he and President Charles M. Vest are discussing the appointment of an associate provost with wide-ranging responsibilities to fill the positions vacated by Professors Keyser and Sheila Widnall, who is currently serving as the Secretary of the Air Force.

President Vest commented, "Jay Keyser is an enormously valuable asset to the MIT community. His ability to interpret and address a wide range of issues from varied perspectives leads to enhanced quality of life on our campus. The personal effort that he expends for the sole purpose of making MIT a better place to live and work is extraordinary.

"Through his service on the Academic Council, as a distinguished member of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy and as a poet and musician, he contributes richly to MIT. I look forward to his continued leadership and collegial service, but hope that he will be able to find increased time for the scholarship and creative activities that he has sacrificed to a large extent for almost a decade. I am personally very grateful for his colleagueship and friendship," Dr. Vest said.

Professor Keyser first worked at MIT in 1961-62 and 1965-66 as a research staff member in theoretical and historical linguistics in the Research Laboratory of Electronics. He then taught at Brandeis University and headed the department of linguistics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, before rejoining MIT in 1977 as professor of linguistics and head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He became associate provost for educational policy and programs in July 1985, and associate provost for institute life in 1992.

Dr. Keyser, who currently teaches a course in speech communication (24.968J/6.541J/HST 710J), said he is looking forward to resuming work as a scholar and as the holder of the Peter DeFlorez Chair, which is designed to encourage humor in the learning process. Asked for a comment, Professor Keyser quipped, "I only regret that I won't have Academic Council to kick around anymore."

A version of this article appeared in the June 1, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 35).

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